Saturday, October 18, 2014

From Ian:

London Student Union Refuses to Commemorate Holocaust
In yet another controversial decision, the Goldsmiths College Students' Union has rejected, by a margin of around 60 to 1, a motion to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day and all victims of genocide.
Education officer Sarah El-Alfy urged students to vote against the proposal, rejecting it as "Eurocentric" and "colonialist".
One unnamed student added that, "The motion would force people to remember things they may not want to remember," whilst another added argued that as the Union was "anti-Zionist" she couldn’t commemorate the Holocaust.
This follows news that the NUS voted against a motion condemning ISIS and supporting the Kurdish resistance as to do so would be Islamophobic.
The Tab reports that Goldsmiths Student Union President Howard Littler responded by saying, "Someone brought up Israel-Palestine out of the blue but I made a point of information and said I didn’t want to conflate the two," further commenting that the controversy was just a "storm in a teacup."
The motion called on the Union to recognise the “unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, of the other genocides, of totalitarianism and racial hatred,” adding that, “commemorating the victims of genocide, racial hatred and totalitarianism, and promoting public awareness of these crimes against humanity, is essential to sustaining and defending democratic culture and civil society, especially in the face of a resurgence of neo-fascism, racial hatred and neo-Stalinism across Europe.”
Anne Bayefsky: The UN's terrorism apologists
Over the past week, the UN’s top legal committee — a General Assembly body where all 193 states are represented — met to discuss terrorism. The webcasts are broadcast globally in multiple languages. The documents are translated and disseminated on a mammoth website free of charge.
It’s a two-step charade. First, since the UN has no definition of terrorism, state sponsors of terrorism happily denounce “terrorism” at the very same time as they promote it. Second, the terrorist funders and weapons suppliers redirect the world’s attention to the supposed “root causes” of terrorism.
Conveniently, the catalog of root causes of terrorism dreamed up in these circles never includes religiously driven bigotry doled out by anti-Semites and misogynist, homophobic sociopaths — whose need to torture, rape and kill requires no deep explanation.
A quick moral inversion, and the terrorist becomes the victim.
The UN was full of such dangerous canards last week.
All 56 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have signed on to the Islamic Convention on Combating International Terrorism, which gives a green light to killing Israelis, Americans and anybody else deemed fair game. The treaty says: “Peoples’ struggle, including armed struggle against foreign occupation, aggression, colonialism and hegemony, aimed at liberation and self-determination . . . shall not be considered a terrorist crime.”
Douglas Murray: UK Votes Overwhelmingly for a Racist, Terrorist, Apartheid State
Before coming to the alarming parts of this, let me break the good news. The motion is non-binding, having been proposed not by the government but by backbench MPs. Secondly the coalition government officially made it a "matter of conscience" vote, though behind the scenes advised its own MPs to stay away and so abstain from the vote. Thirdly the UK government announced in advance of the vote that if the result of the vote was a passing of the motion then the UK government would not accept the vote as in any way binding.
Now the bad news. The Labour opposition whipped the vote. That is they ordered their MPs (albeit under the weakest "one-line" whip) to vote for the recognition of a Palestinian state. Secondly, despite the much-vaunted "Israeli lobby" claims made by anti-Israel campaigners, very few British MPs felt compelled to turn up and offer a coherent explanation of why a unilaterally-declared Palestinian state would be a disaster. And thirdly, of course, all this means that on Monday night British MPs voted for the creation of a racist, terrorist state. This is a point that is worth dwelling on.
Because of course the House of Commons is filled with people who would like to flaunt their anti-racist credentials. Some of them have spent years running off the moral capital of having opposed the racist apartheid state of South Africa. And as we know – and as we saw again in the recent debate over whether or not Britain should join the international campaign against ISIS – there are plenty of MPs who like to show that they are tough on terrorists. Yet here they were on Monday night trying to will into existence – against the will of the only relevant negotiating partner on the ground – a state which in the words of Palestinian Authority [PA] Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, speaking last year, "Would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands."

Elliott Abrams: The New York Times and Israel (again)?
The New York Times, whose hostility to Israel is visible in both its news and its editorial ‎pages, was at it again this week. In an editorial (about the symbolic vote in the U.K. ‎parliament backing Palestinian statehood) titled "A British Message to Israel," The ‎Times's editorial board unloaded yet again with a barrage of advice, opinion -- and untruths.‎
Here are some of the key words:‎
"The vote is one more sign of the frustration many people in Europe feel about the failure to ‎achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement despite years of promises.‎
"The most recent American-mediated talks collapsed in April. Meanwhile, Israel continues ‎to build new settlements or expand existing ones, thus shrinking the territory available for a ‎Palestinian state and ignoring an international community that considers such construction ‎illegal. The recent war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, which killed more than 2,000 ‎Palestinians and 73 Israelis, has increased the sense that violence will keep recurring while ‎peace remains elusive.‎"
MPs Who Allowed Parliament to Vote for a Palestinian State Should be Ashamed
Out of this Western guilt comes great moral concessions to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other murderous Islamist fronts within the contested Palestinian territories. These propagandists, who use their own people’s corpses as ‘evidence’ of the blood-lust of “the Jews”, whilst sacrificing the lives of their own subjects for their own filthy ends, have been legitimated by the British Parliament’s misguided and cowardly decision.
Outside of the Palestinian territories, the message it will send to groups like Hezbollah, who also use violent, terroristic methods to attempt to delegitimise Israel (to put it mildly), an actual nation-state, is, to put it bluntly, ‘carry on and keep up the good work’.
We Britons, by means of our elected politicians, have sent out a message to every Islamist thug in the world that a project of radicalism, propaganda, Jew-hatred and violent incitement can not only be treated as legitimate, but also that it can triumph over democracy, liberal patriotism, tolerance and self-defence.
In this respect, we have particularly failed the very people who have to live under Hamas; by legitimising their claims, we have vouched for their oppression of the people they claim to represent. The anti-Israeli crowd in Europe and the United States chastises Israelis for their patriotism. They, up on their high horses, see themselves above petty consecrations to the nation-state, which they view as out-dated and beneath them. But when it comes to Hamas’ Islamist, racist, ultra-nationalist cause, they celebrate it.
The MPs who disagreed with their party whips on Monday, and decided to abstain rather than vote against this motion, should be ashamed of themselves. Political cowardice and appeals to populism is their only excuse; it will not protect them from conscience."
NUS motion to condemn Isis fails amidst claims of islamophobia
The National Union of Students has rejected a call to condemn militant group Isis on the grounds that the motion was “islamophobic”, in a move which has promoted campaigners to accuse the body of being in the “stranglehold” of divisive “identity politics”.
The political split in the student body over the conflict in the Middle East erupted after a motion was put forward last month to the NUS National Executive Council, asking students to express “solidarity” with the Kurds in Iraq and Syria who are engaged in a bloody struggle against ISIS militants.
The motion, proposed by Daniel Cooper and Clifford Fleming with international students officer Shreya Paudel, called on British students “to condemn the IS and support Kurdish forces fighting against it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military intervention.” (h/t dcomplex)
Douglas Murray: ‘Islamophobia’ strikes again – national students’ union refuses to condemn Isis
In a world often devoid of good news, there has been a fine development on the farthest-flung shores of insanity. The British National Union of Students aspires to represent students, though traditionally tends only to represent those students who are politically ambitious and possess left wing views. In any case, its latest idiocy is that it has tied itself in knots over the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – Isis.
A condemnation of the ebullient Islamic group was tabled by a student of Kurdish descent. The Kurds, some people will recall, have not been treated well by Isis of late. Of course such a motion would be fairly pointless. It is unlikely that even one Isis fighter will be persuaded to put down their meat-cleaver because the British NUS has passed a motion against them, however strongly-worded.
But sometimes the symbolism of things matters. It would have been nice if the NUS – which has done so much in recent years to smear and otherwise attack the critics of Islamic extremism – could have found it within itself to condemn Isis. But they didn’t manage it. Specifically, they didn’t manage it because, as student officer reported on his blog, the Black Students officer Malia Bouattia declared that the condemnation of Isis consisted of ‘blatant Islamophobia’, and was a shill for ‘pro USA intervention’ to boot.
Over 80% of Palestinian reporters self-censor, study finds
Over 80 percent of Palestinian journalists practice self-censorship in their reporting, according to a study released Thursday by a Palestinian media rights group.
“Self-censorship negatively affects the freedom of expression and the professional level of the Palestinian media which already faces many obstacles,” the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms General Director Mousa Rimawi said at a meeting on how self-censorship effects Palestinian freedom of expression.
Only 19% of Palestinian journalists surveyed said they “do not practice any kind of censorship in their work, and 68% said that either they or their colleagues had some of their materials “banned from publication” at some point.
‘Saddam plotted to kidnap Israeli PM Begin as revenge for Osirak’
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein plotted to kidnap Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin after Israel bombed the Osirak nuclear reactor in June 1981, a report in Al-Quds Al-Arabi published Friday claimed.
Badie Aref Izzat, a confidant of the former Iraqi leader, told the London-based Arabic paper that immediately after the Israeli Air Force stunned Baghdad with its lightning strike on the nuclear facility outside the capital, Saddam instructed his people to plan a kidnapping of the man responsible — Begin.
The plot was supposed to be carried out by a Palestinian, who would grab the prime minister and flee across the border, presumably through Jordan or Syria, to Iraq, Aref said.
Ministers bash Kerry for linking peace talks to Islamic State
Speaking at an event marking the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha at the State Department Thursday, Kerry said it was “imperative” to restart stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks, since the conflict was helping the Islamic State recruit new members.
“There wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt –- and I see a lot of heads nodding –- they had to respond to,” he told gathered diplomats.
“People need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity,” he added.
Writing on Facebook, Bennett, who heads the nationalist Jewish Home party, a major coalition member, linked to an article about Kerry’s remarks, commenting in Hebrew that “Even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian, someone will always blame the Jew.”
US denies Kerry linked stalled peace talks to rise of IS
Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters that Kerry’s comments were distorted for political gains, pointing a finger at Economy Minister Naftali Bennett who had indicated Kerry was using an anti-Semitic canard.
Harf said the State Department was aware of the reactions by Israeli officials to the comments, especially those of “a particular minister.”
“What [Kerry] said was that during his travels to build a coalition against the Islamic State, he was told that should the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be resolved, the Middle East would be a better place,” Harf said.
Ya’alon: Palestinians will have autonomy, not statehood
Painting a bleak picture of future Palestinian relations, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Wednesday that he is focused on “managing the conflict,” rather than resolving it. The defense minister said that Israel is striving to create a situation of Palestinian autonomy, but not necessarily full statehood, and insisted that there is no indication the Palestinians would be satisfied with a state on the 1967 borders.
“I’m not seeking the solution, I am looking for a way to manage the conflict and the relations in a way that strengthens our interests,” Ya’alon said in an interview with Israel Hayom. “We need to free ourselves of the conception that everything will enter the framework of a state. From my perspective, let them call it the Palestinian empire. What do I care? It’s autonomy — if it ends up being a demilitarized area. It’s not the status quo, it’s creating a tolerable modus vivendi that will serve our interests.”
Asked about the phrase “two-state solution,” Ya’alon said: “Call it what you will.”
“The political separation has already been made, and this is good. We are not handling the [Palestinians' day-to-day] life, not in Gaza and not in the West Bank. This separation is important. I would encourage and strengthen the governance, the economy, and the citizens’ ability to live there with dignity,” he said.
Palestinians woo France and Luxembourg for UNSC majority on statehood
Palestinian officials said Thursday that their draft resolution setting November 2016 as the deadline for ending Israel’s occupation of lands sought for a Palestinian state still doesn’t have majority backing in the UN Security Council.
The draft is part of a series of Palestinian diplomatic campaigns at the United Nations. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he would present such a resolution to the 15-member Council, but did not give a date. He and his advisers would consider a nine-vote majority in favor of the resolution as a diplomatic victory even though the US is likely to veto and block such a resolution.
Report: Spanish parliament to vote on Palestinian state recognition
The Spanish parliament is reportedly slated to vote on recognizing Palestinian statehood following suit of British lawmakers earlier in the week, according to Al Arabiya on Thursday.
The report came following a vote in Britain’s House of Commons on Monday in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
While the motion did not alter the government's stance on the issue, it carried symbolic value for Palestinians in their pursuit of statehood.
Abbas: ‘Settlers’ have no right to ‘desecrate’ Temple Mount
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that Israeli “settlers” had no right to “desecrate” the Temple Mount and should be prevented from accessing the site.
“It is our sacred place, al-Aqsa [mosque] is ours, this Noble Sanctuary [as Muslims refer to the Temple Mount] is ours. They have no right to go there and desecrate it,” Abbas said, according to Israel Radio.
The PA president called on Palestinians to unite and defend Jerusalem, echoing statements by Hamas officials Ismail Radwan and exiled head of the politburo Khaled Mashaal earlier Friday and Thursday.
Israeli Air Force Ups Alert Over ISIS Crews Flying Captured Syrian MiGs (VIDEO)
The Israeli Air Force has raised its alert level in the north over reports that Iraqi defector pilots are training ISIS air crews to fly missions using captured Syrian MiGs warplanes, Israel’s 0404 News said Friday.
Israel is concerned that the militants might opt to use the aircraft to carry out attacks against Israeli targets, despite the Jewish State’s substantial air defence capabilities.
After heavy fighting in late August, ISIS militants overran the al-Tabqa air base on August 24th, and captured three Syrian MiG-21 or MiG-23 models, as well as missiles and related gear, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the International Business Times reported.
“They have trainers, Iraqi officers who were pilots before for [former Iraqi president] Saddam Hussein,” according to witnesses, who said they saw the jets in Aleppo, in northern Syria.
Arab Terrorists Try to Burn Jews Alive in Jerusalem
Arab terrorists hurling molotov cocktail firebombs at Jewish homes, trying to burn entire families as they sleep - it has become part of a routine of terror in the Israeli capital of Jerusalem, where a "silent intifada" has been raging under the radar of major news outlets.
A new video shows just shocking and potentially lethal the wave of terror has become; the video, uploaded to YouTube on Thursday, shows Arab terrorists from the Al Sawana neighborhood just east of the Old City, between the Mount of Olives and Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus, lobbing firebombs at Jewish homes.
The terrorists can be seen charging the homes in the dead of night clutching their molotov cocktails, before releasing the bombs at the houses in large arcs and then turning tail to flee the scene.
Palestinian boy killed by IDF in West Bank
Palestinian media reported that Baha Samir Bader, 13, was shot in the chest by IDF troops in the West Bank town of Beit Liqia.
The IDF said that the soldiers fired at the boy when he threw a firebomb at the unit while it was leaving the village north of Ramallah, near the West Bank settlement of Beit El.
In a separate incident, four firebombs were thrown at a house in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nof Zion, causing no injuries but inflicting damage to a vehicle and a wall. Police were searching the area for suspects.
Early Thursday morning, Palestinian security forces shot and killed 25-year-old Bilal al-Rajabi during a raid on a house south of Hebron. According to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, seven security officers were injured in a shootout with wanted men, and al-Rajabi succumbed to his wounds in the hospital afterwards. The allegations against al-Rajabi and the others were not clear.
Abbas: We will cede control of PA if Hamas wins elections
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that he would hand over control of the PA to Hamas if the movement wins a future election.
Abbas told an Egyptian TV station that he was prepared to cede control to Hamas as he did in 2006, when the Islamist movement won the Palestinian legislative election.
Abbas said the despite its victory, Hamas then staged a coup against the Palestinian government, resulting in a seven-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.
“The only solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian territories is holding fair and transparent elections in order to complete the process of reconciliation [with Hamas],” he said.
Abbas, 79, said he had no intention to seek reelection, saying it was time for him to relax after 55 years of public work [aka terrorism].
Abbas derides Hamas talk of ‘victory’ in war against Israel
According to Israel’s Channel 2, which screened clips of the interview on Thursday, Abbas also said he would not compete for another term as PA president if elections were held in the near future, since he needed a rest from political life. The Fatah-Hamas reconciliation process provides for parliamentary and presidential elections, but no date has been fixed, and while the “unity” government backed by the rival factions held a first cabinet meeting in Gaza last week, the partnership is highly strained.
“What did we get out of it?” Abbas asked rhetorically, speaking about the Israel-Hamas conflict in July-August, in a section of the interview shown on Channel 2.
“For what did we suffer through those 50 days? We had 2,200 fatalities, 10,000 injured, 40,000 homes and facilities and factories destroyed. Tell me, what did we achieve?” (Hamas and the UN say most of the Gaza fatalities were civilians; Abbas used his speech to the UN General Assembly last month to accuse Israel of perpetrating genocide; Israel says some 1,000 of the dead were Hamas and other gunmen, and blames Hamas for all civilian casualties since it emplaced its war machine in Gaza residential areas.)
Navy official: Gaza shore ‘one big smuggling tunnel’
The expansion of the Gaza fishing zone from its current six-mile limit was one of Hamas’s key demands during the recent Gaza conflict. Israel said it would consider such a move as part of the ceasefire agreement with the terror group, though no actual change has been made so far.
While the officer, identified only as Lt. Col. ‘L,’ noted that most Gaza fishermen were not involved in terrorist activity, he stressed that terror operatives were continually using those fishermen’s freedoms to smuggle weapons and plan attacks.
‘L’ went so far as to call Gaza’s shore “one big tunnel,” in reference to Hamas’s numerous smuggling and attack tunnels dug under the Egyptian and Israeli borders. Dozens of such tunnels were destroyed by Israel during Operation Protective Edge during the summer. The officer said that after the Egyptians destroyed many of the smuggling tunnels dug between Sinai and Gaza in 2013-2014, attempts had intensified to smuggle weaponry via the sea.
Islamic Jihad praises Iran for role in Gaza war
The head of Palestinian terrorist group Islamic Jihad praised Iran for its role in last summer’s Gaza conflict against Israel, during a visit to Tehran on Thursday.
“Definitely, the victory was achieved with the assistance of the Islamic republic,” Ramadan Abdullah Shallah said at a meeting with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
“Without Iran’s strategic and efficient help, resistance and victory in Gaza would have been impossible,” he said of the 50-day war.
Hate and hypocrisy disguised as free speech fester on campus
Freedom of speech is part of the cornerstone of our democracy – one of our country’s most precious values. And while “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it,” Voltaire’s principle does not shield speech against challenges and consequences, especially if the language is laced with hate, blatant falsehoods and a call for murder.
Last week self-proclaimed intellectuals, progressive organizations and anti-Israel (dare I say anti-Semitic) groups welcomed to numerous Chicago college campuses Steven Salaita, the infamous professor whose job offer from the University of Illinois was rescinded after tweeting hate-filled rhetoric against the Jewish State and of course “Zionists.”
Salaita, a former tenured professor at Virginia Tech, has become the darling of progressive academia and the anti-Israel movement, portrayed as a victim of Jewish influence and power whose First Amendment rights have been trampled.
But just as you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theatre, can a professor employed by taxpayers and in a position to influence impressionable young minds, take to social media and advocate for the murder of thousands of people?
Judge orders jurors protected from pro-Palestinian activists
Odeh is charged with criminally failing to disclose her conviction and membership in PFLP when she applied for naturalization and obtained U.S. citizenship. While Odeh is trying to put the merits of her original conviction in dispute, it’s not clear to me why that is relevant to the criminal charge — she was convicted and needed to disclose it. As part of that disclosure, she could have explained why the conviction allegedly was unjust.
The case has become a cause célèbre with anti-Israel groups, with protesters loudly picketing outside the courthouse whenever there is a hearing. One of those groups, of which Odeh was a leader, is the Arab American Action Network.
With the trial coming up, one of the key organizers of the protests openly stated the plan to try to influence the jurors through protests and packing the courtroom.
That led the government to seek both an anonymous jury and special protections for the jury such as meeting off-site and being transported by Marshalls to the courthouse. See our prior post for more details, Palestinian activist groups accused of attempting to influence jury.
French City Facing Legal Action over Marwan Barghouti Street
The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, on Wednesday prepared to ask an administrative court to void the move by Valenton, near Paris, BNVCA founder Sammy Ghozlan told JTA. BNVCA also will complain to police of incitement to commit a crime, he added.
“This celebration of a murderer is unacceptable,” Ghozlan said of the dedication in Venton last month of a street honoring Barghouti, who was sentenced by an Israeli court in 2004 to multiple life sentences for planning dozens of deadly terrorist attacks.
During the Sept. 15 inauguration of Marwan Barghouti Alley, Valenton Mayor Françoise Baud called Barghouti “the face of the unwavering resistance of the Palestinian people against the occupation, the crimes, the destruction, the apartheid and the colonization perpetrated by the Israeli government.”
Open Hillel Holds Conference With BDS-Supporting Speakers
Open Hillel, a student movement calling on Hillel International—the Jewish campus umbrella represented at more than 550 colleges and universities—to allow the expression of more diverse points of view on Israel, held a conference from Oct. 11-13 in Cambridge, Mass.
Conference participants included those who believe in a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, as well as those who believe in just one state for two peoples. One of the speakers was well-known Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activist Judith Butler. The organizers of the conference said that they tried to also attract pro-Israel speakers, but that none of the organizations and individuals they reached out to agreed to participate, reported Haaretz.
US-led air strikes in Syria killed 10 civilians, watchdog says
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said seven civilians were killed when an air strike hit a gas plant near the town of al-Khasham is the eastern Deir al-Zor province on Friday, and three civilians were killed in an air strike on Thursday night in the north east province of al-Hassakah.
Reuters cannot independently confirm the reports due to security restrictions.
"We have seen no evidence at this time to corroborate claims of civilian casualties. I can assure you that before any mission, every precaution is taken to ensure civilians are not harmed," US Central Command spokesman Colonel Patrick Ryder said.
"Regardless, we take reports of civilian casualties or damage to civilian facilities seriously and we have a process to investigate each allegation."
Lebanon blocks Syrian refugees from entering: United Nations
The Lebanese government has cut back sharply on the number of Syrian refugees it is allowing into the country, the United Nations representative in Lebanon said on Saturday.
Lebanon has the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world, with one in four residents a refugee, many of them living in the poorest areas.
The government has said it cannot cope with the more than a million Syrians and has asked for funds to help look after them.
French Jewish girl, 17, ‘planned terror attack on parents’ store, was set to join IS’
Dounia Bouzar, the founder of the Centre de Prévention des Dérives Sectaires liées à l’Islam (Center for the Prevention of Sectarian Abuses linked to Islam), told Channel 2 on Wednesday that she came across the case when the family of the 17-year-old Paris resident contacted her for help.
The center conducts research and works with French youth who have undergone Islamic radicalization and brainwashing. Some, she said, were well on the path to joining IS, including the young Jewish girl, whom she calls “A.”
“A” was about to board a plane when the center intervened and convinced her to stay with her parents “so that the family connection would not be severed — it is important because it can lead to even more radicalization,” said Bouzar.
She said that “A” self-radicalized, likely online, is completely covered up physically, voices extreme anti-Semitic thoughts and is convinced she is the victim of a plot against her.” (h/t Yoel)
Saddam-Era Chemical Weapons Now Under ISIS Control
According to a recent report published in the journal Middle East Review of International Affairs, or MERIA, militants of the Islamic State group used chemical weapons, including mustard gas, against Kurdish fighters in the Syrian border town of Kobani during their first attempt to capture the town in July.
The report, which is based on testimonies from eyewitnesses on the ground, said that the chemical weapons had been transferred to the Syrian province of Raqqa from a Saddam Hussein-era chemical weapons facility located near the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The report has prompted fears that ISIS could have access to vast stockpiles of chemical weapons, including sarin, mustard gas, and VX, a nerve agent.
In June, reports emerged that the Islamic State group had captured Muthanna, a chemical weapons facility, near the city of Samarra, located 45 miles northwest of Baghdad. At the time, the United States government said it did not believe that the complex, which was considered to be one of Saddam Hussein’s most important chemical weapons facility, built during Iraq’s war with Iran in the early 1980s, contained “Chemical Weapons materials of military value.”
Online retailer has almost 1,000 Nazi-themed items for sale
B’nai B’rith International singled out web retailer Etsy for going “on the record to ban some offensive items,” citing its policy against it, but failing to enforce the policy consistently.
B’nai B’rith said that a search of the site in recent days revealed that “456 swastika-themed items were available for sale, as were 479 Hitler-themed items, 13 Ku Klux Klan-themed items, and one racist, Jewish caricature candlestick listed specifically under the topic ‘anti-Semitic.’”
While B’nai B’rith focused on Etsy, it also noted that numerous other retailers, including Ebay, Amazon, Sears Marketplace and Yahoo!, were also guilty of allowing users to sell offensive items on their sites.
Klinghoffer and the 'Two Sides' of Terrorism
Suppose the opera had been about a different murder and the Met offered an intense, two-sided operatic discussion of the desirability of the murder of, say, President Kennedy in a work called “The Death of JFK. ” Or a production about the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in which singers on the “side” of that assassination offer racist views in support of the murder. Or how about one on the death of one of the thousands of victims of the 9/11 attack that contained an extended operatic debate between her killers and herself about whether her death was justified.
Surely we recoil at all of these. They all would be protected by the First Amendment. The First Amendment is basically -- and gloriously -- content-neutral. It protects not only enduring works of art but also the dregs of human imagination, ranging from films of animals being tortured and killed to the publication of “Mein Kampf.” But it is inconceivable that the Metropolitan Opera would have chosen to offer the public any of the operas I have just hypothesized.
Why then offer one that equates -- sympathetically, no less -- the murderers of Leon Klinghoffer with their victim? “Grievances” there may be on both sides in the Middle East conflict, but there was no moral justification for the murder of Klinghoffer. John Adams has defended his focus on the motivation of the killers by saying that it helps to explain “what in the mythology that they grew up with, forced them or dared them to take this action.”
But the killers were not “forced” to murder Klinghoffer. Nor were they dared to do so. They chose to commit their crime. So did Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray and Osama bin Laden. We can expect no arias to be sung in their defense at the Metropolitan Opera, and there is no justification for any to be sung for the Klinghoffer killers.
NY ‘Klinghoffer’ teach-in warns of slippery anti-Semitic slope
With its Metropolitan Opera debut set for October 20, opposition to the work has increased and the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy’s held a “Teach-in” Tuesday night at the Walter Reade Theater (the Met’s Lincoln Center neighbor).
ISGAP turned to academics, activists, experts on the artistic medium, and a particularly impassioned Rabbi Shmuley Boteach to protest NY’s main opera house’s forthcoming presentation.
John Adams penned the piece in 1991, drawing his story from the 1985 Palestinian Liberation Front’s seizure of the cruise liner “Achille Lauro” and murder of wheelchair-bound Jewish-American Leon Klinghoffer. Since its original publication, the opera has met innumerable accusations of painting its terrorist characters with sympathy and its Jewish figures with contempt.
At the ISGAP event, executive director Charles Asher Small countered charges directed at Jewish activist groups for allegedly disrupting the Met’s freedom of speech by citing the equally important right of “the freedom from speech,” a value he suggests is better preserved in America’s fellow Western nations.
The cost of each “Klinghoffer” production, as Small and his contemporaries believe, is the global spread of anti-Semitism.
In NY Times and Streets of New York, Klinghoffer Opera Controversy Continues
This morning, The New York Times published an article in its music section, “Met’s ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Remains a Lightning Rod.” Defending and rationalizing the company’s production, The Times only gets around to presenting any critical view of the opera in paragraph seventeen of the article when quoting the daughters of terror victim Leon Klinghoffer who wrote, “It rationalizes, romanticizes, and legitimizes the terrorist murder of our father.”
The article then resumes its justifications for the antisemitic piece and derides critics and protesters before finally pointing out that “A look at the Met’s website suggested that ticket sales for 'Klinghoffer' have been sluggish.”
While The Times article notes that its current opera critic acclaims "Klinghoffer," the paper is silent on its own original panning of the work as not very good art, let alone controversial.
Israeli social gamer Diwip sells for $100 million
Another Israeli social gaming firm is being acquired by a major international gaming company. Imperus Technologies of Canada (the company changed its name from Isis Lab in September, for obvious reasons) announced this week that it would spend up to $100 million for Diwip, a Tel Aviv-based company that runs, among other things, Best Casino, a series of top-grossing Facebook gambling-but-not-for-money games.
Social gaming – which provides users with the experience of playing casino games, but without actually betting – is a multi-billion dollar business worldwide. In the US alone in 2012, social gaming generated $1.9 billion in revenues. Facebook and other social media sites don’t permit gambling, and on-line casinos are not considered wholesome places to hang out on line. Many of them also require membership fees, and regulators make it difficult for users to join. So casual gamblers – the kind that keep Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and numerous Native American-run casinos in business – avoid them for the most part.
Checkmarx ‘perfect’ app testing platform, says Gartner
Israel’s Checkmarx wA is the only security testing platform to merit a “perfect” score this year from security research firm Gartner. In its 2014 Critical Capabilities for Application Security Testing Report, Checkmarx rated a perfect 5.0 score for its Static Analysis Testing (SAST) product, besting 16 of the top companies making similar products, including IBM and HP.
SAST is a set of technologies designed to thoroughly analyze application source code, byte code and binaries for security issues in a test (non-running) environment. Checkmarx, said Gartner, beat out the competition in nearly all of its seven use case tests, checking the platforms’ capabilities in dealing with code vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. According to Gartner, Checkmarx’s platform performed in an “outstanding” manner, “significantly exceeding requirements.”
World TV producers scoop up Israeli shows at MIPCOM
Israeli-made television formats are once again a hot ticket at MIPCOM, the annual entertainment and TV market held in Cannes every October. Turkey, Italy, Germany, France, Sweden and Spain have all signed deals for new original Israeli game shows and reality formats.
Armoza has signed four deals for their new and recently launched prime time show The People’s Choice with Endemol Turkey, Germany’s Tresor TV Produktions, Italy’s Sony-owned Toro and Sweden’s Elk Productions. The People’s Choice entertainment format was developed in partnership with TF1 France.
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